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Medicare Part D...

Over at Obsidian Wings, Hilzoy is an unhappy camper:

Obsidian Wings: Medicare Part D: The Clown Show Continues : From yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

A top Bush administration official acknowledged Thursday that the Medicare prescription program is too complicated for many of its intended beneficiaries to understand and said simplifying it is a top priority. "Simplification is absolutely the next step in this process, now that we've got the benefit in place," Medicare administrator Mark McClellan said at a Senate hearing into the program that kicked off on Jan. 1."

Most people think that it's a good idea to figure out how a program will work, and then pass legislation to put it in place. Plan first; then execute. But that's pre-9/11 thinking! In the brave new world of the Bush administration, you pass the law before you figure out how to run the program, to "get the benefit in place", and then you figure out how it ought to operate. Nifty, huh? I'll bet they buy cars before figuring out what kind they want, and build buildings before hiring an architect -- just to get the structure in place before they get to work on the design. Why didn't we think of it before?

Besides, it's just a Medicare prescription drug program. It's not as though people are being denied life-saving medications, or being forced into nursing homes, or being told they just can't have any antipsychotic drugs anymore, or anything.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the number of people who are being victimized by the negligence of the people who drafted this legislation continues to grow. The latest group? Independent pharmacists:

More than a month after filling thousands of unpaid prescriptions for poor, sick customers, many of America's small and independent pharmacists, particularly those in low-income and rural areas, are facing a cash crunch as they await repayment from Medicare's private drug plans.

At Rose Drugs in central Tampa, Fla., many customers are poor people with HIV infections and elderly people on fixed incomes. When their drug coverage switched from Medicaid to Medicare on Jan. 1, store owner Rose Ferlita doled out medicines to combat their ailments even though she couldn't always verify their enrollment in the new Medicare drug benefit.

"What are you going to do?" Ferlita asked. "My friends are my customers and my customers are my friends. You've got to give them something."

As weeks passed and the enrollment problems mounted, Ferlita took out a $40,000 loan to help pay the drug wholesalers who wanted their bills paid now, not when the hoped-for Medicare payments came in.

"Two capsules here, three capsules there. It sounds like nothing, but when they're HIV meds, they're expensive. So I'm praying to God it's going to even out," Ferlita said. "Everyone had an expectation that this was going to be a smooth transition, but it hasn't been. Not even close."

Faced with the prospect of elderly and disabled customers going without life-sustaining drugs, many pharmacists have given out tens of thousands of dollars in medication. As the bills for those drugs came in from their wholesalers, pharmacies have had to pay them while waiting for the plans to reimburse them."

Republicans: the party that cares about small business.

Ha. Ha. Ha.